Eyewitness News at 11, 2-7-13

11:59 PM, Feb 7, 2013   |    comments
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<make no mistake...if these cuts happen..there will be a serious disruption in defense programs and a sharp decline in our military readiness.>

That's U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta... Commenting on a string of cuts called sequestration.

The Pentagon Chief fired off warnings today about what the cuts would do to bases like Central Georgia's Robins Air Force Base... and the country's defense capability.

Good evening and thanks for joining us. I'm Leah Johnson.

Grounded aircraft... furloughs... And cancelled government contracts.

Those are just a few of the effects that the undersecretary of the Air Force outlined today... on the impact of sequestration.

It would slash 1.2 trillion dollars from the federal budget.... 500 billion dollars of it from the military.

So what would that mean for Robins Air Force Base... a Central Georgia military installation that's also the state's largest employer?

Frank Malloy explains.

Thanks, Leah. Hello Everyone.

Undersecretary of Defense, Jamie Morin...summed up sequestration like this....

He said the Air Force will have to reduce its maintenance work load by a third.

Vice Chief of staff of the Air Force General Larry Spencer said that means cutting maintenance work for 150 aircraft and 80 engines.

That would have a major impact on Robins... Grounding aircraft and stopping work for thousands of civilians.

The reduction... Could also cause furloughs... for about 9 thousand employees who work in Robins Depot maintenance.

That's on top of 22 furlough days already announced for civilian workers.

And defense contractors...will see 10 percent of their revenues...taken of the top by the air force.

Tonight on Eyewitness News at six... Retired General Robert McMahon, former head of Robins Air Force Base's logistics command center...echoed many of the same sentiments as you heard a moment ago from Secretary Panetta.

Both made clear their opinions...that the cuts...come at too high a price.

<our military will become a second rate military power... For the first time in over a century. If you think about that, and you think about those out there that wish us harm... That's a scary thought. A little bit closer to home when you talk about what that means for our four services...it means you're gonna spend less dollars on training people... It means we're gonna spend less dollars on maintaining the equipment...that our military members utilize in times of war. So we have the potential of putting people in harm's way....our service members in harms way...and having them less prepared that perhaps they are today.>

<This is not a game! This is reality. These steps would seriously damage the fragile American economy and they would degrade our ability to respond to crises precisely at a time of rising instability across the globe.>

The automatic across-the-board spending cuts will take effect March first unless Congress acts to stop them.

Panetta spoke at Georgetown University on Wednesday.

He says this was one of his last speeches as Defense Secretary.

Panetta has just a few days left in his post.

While Panetta adamantly opposed cutting programs... He did make a recommendation today to trim a pay raise for members of the military.

That's in hopes of offsetting the need for sequestration.

He's proposing military salaries be limited to a one-percent increase next year, instead of the 1-point-7 increase that was approved.

Pentagon officials say the recommendation is tied to the Defense Department's 20-14 budget proposal... which is expected to be sent to Congress this month.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff have reportedly agreed to Panetta's proposed pay plan.

Final approval would come from Congress in the form of the 20-14 budget.

In other news... Transportation officials say I-16 is safe now for drivers passing through Laurens County... but the accident left serious damage to the highway where 4 people died yesterday in a 27 car crash.

Laurens County Sheriff Bill Harrell says a section of the road will have to be replaced because it was incinerated.

Work will begin tomorrow... weather permitting.

He couldn't say how long that might take... but one westbound lane will remain closed until then.

Meanwhile... investigators continue to look at whether a mix of fog and smoke Wednesday morning... played a factor in the deadly chain reaction.

It was his second appearance on Jeopardy!... Appearing as a semi finalist in the teen competition.

< Trebek: A Junior from Macon, Georgia.. Kelton Ellis...>

You first saw the Central High School student on Jeopardy! last week...

We watched along with you as he scored point after point... and advanced to tonight's semifinals.

the episode - which was taped in November... ended with a clincher that even gave veteran host Alex Trebek a moment of pause.

the episode - which was taped in November... ended with a clincher that even gave veteran host Alex Trebek a moment of pause.

Nonetheless... A great run for Kelton. Last week, he won 24 thousand dollars in his first round.

William Crouch... a Northside High School student... also advanced to semi-finals... He lost in last night's match.

Some other young standouts and their teachers were recognized in the state's STAR program tonight.

That stands for Student Teacher Achievement Recognition Program.

Students with the highest SAT score at their respective schools receive a STAR nomination.

Six schools from Houston county were represented by students and teachers tonight

Houston County High School's Will Freeman had the highest SAT score in Houston County this year.

A school commitment kept Will from attending, but...

His teacher, Laura Byrd, earned Star honors for the seventh time.

<it gives recognition to some of the students that really are superior students that work ver y hard at what they do. It gives them a chance to be recognized and to recognize their teachers. It means so much to be recognized by a student for what you've done. >

Will and Mrs Byrd will attend the Region STAR banquet next month in Macon at Middle Georgia State College.

Our next story is about an unlikely leader on the basketball court.

Reporter Steven Dial...from our Gannett sister station WLTX in Columbia, South Carolina... introduces us to an athlete who proves there's no height requirement...on big dreams.

<"It's the championship game, its time for me to show out.">


With a championship game on the line, players at Hopkins Middle School says they are confident.

<"Hopkins Middle is the best team.">


The undefeated team is led by the most unlikely of characters..13 year old Carl Washington.

He can easily be lost in a crowd and doesn't light up the stat book...but there is no argument about how big his heart is.

<"Carl made it to age 13, Carl is a blessing.">


For Carl, doctors told his mother that he would not live past five years old.

He battles a type of dwarfism that attacks his growth and immune system.

<"They said Carl was not going to walk, they said he was not going to do this or do that, but look at my child now, only God has the say so.">


Carl loves sports but his condition has kept him from doing what he loves to do...until last year.

The coaches at Hopkins Middle School let Carl on the team... And it has changed, his teammates lives forever.

<"When I first went to a game, to see my child play, I cried.">

He doesn't get a lot of playing time but when he does, he makes a lasting memory.



Carl know that he is limited but believes that he can play basketball just like any other kid. He says he is thankful to his coach for the opportunity.

<"He does everything, he is the best coach ever.">


During the Championship game, Coach put carl in with 2 minutes left... And the rest... Was history.



Despite his constant challenges... His mother says Carl is the light of her life.

<"That's a blessing child that God gave to me. .">


And after this game..that blessing child is going out a champion.

In hopkins..steven dial..news19 wltx.

Finally tonight... Yet another Facebook Fan of the Day...

Congratulations, Tim Murray. You'll be receiving your very own 13WMAZ coffee mug.




Tim tells us his favorite sports team is the Falcons... His favorite musician is Brad Paisley.

If you want to be fan of the day...just like us on Facebook...and fill out the entry form on our Facebook page.


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